Now that you’ve got the basics of filled grids from our last post, it’s time to kick it up a notch and explore some filled grid variations.

If you’ve been following along with this Free Motion Quilting for Beginners series, I bet you can guess what I’m going to say next. IYKYK.  If you’re new here, then go to this post. It is a list (with links) of the first posts in the series. Then you can continue on from there.

IYKYK = If you know, you know.

The Five Basic Shapes.

We used straight lines to fill every other grid box last week. That created fabulous texture!


This is another example:

There were squares pieced in this quilt, and I could have used those piecing lines as my grid, but I chose to divide those pieced squares even further, to make a smaller grid. I used a removable marking tool, the Handi Iron-Off Pencil, to do that. They work great on dark fabrics, iron off, and leave no residue. Just what you want in a quilt marking tool.



Straight Line Variations

We can change up the way we use straight lines in the grid boxes:


I started by going around the perimeter of the grid box and then spiraled in towards the center. When I got to the middle, I just angled back out to the perimeter.

That makes me think of another variation! Use angled straight lines to fill alternating grid boxes. Can you picture that?

How about the other shapes?


We can fill the alternating grid boxes with a simple small stipple.

Using the method of doing 2 rows at a time, like we did in the last post, works great for stipple as well. You do need to think ahead and end in the corner that connects to the next box you want to fill.


Using the S-shape to fill the grid lends movement to the quilt.

Once again, I want to make the design as continuous as possible. Using the alternating rows trick doesn’t work for the S-shape variation. But working on a diagonal and alternating the direction of the S-shape works really well!


Start in the upper left. Fill the grid box with S-shapes ending in the lower right corner of the box.


Fill the next grid box on the diagonal but this time rotate the S-shapes by 90 degrees. End in the bottom right corner of the box.

Fill the next box on the diagonal, rotating your S-shapes by 90 degrees again. Continue along the diagonal as far as you can within the quiltable space of your machine, or the end of your grid, whichever comes first.


Work the other diagonal rows that you can reach in your frame space. This example is a small 9-box grid so I just need to fill in the corners.

Pro-Tip: remember to keep the alternating direction of the S-shapes when moving on to new diagonal rows.


Sometimes, when shapes do not fill the whole grid box, the design can lose the crispness of the grid. If I erase the grid lines for this S-shape variation, I’m not too happy with the look of the design. This often happens with curved variations.



This is totally personal preference. Always remember, it’s your quilt, so make it look the way YOU want.

When I lose the crisp lines of the grid, I opt to stitch the grid as well as the design. If the design does the job of defining the grid, I don’t need to stitch the grid. In the case of the S-shape design, I think the grid needs to be stitched.

To me, this looks much better. What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

Next week we’ll dive into some more variations.

Till then……quilt every day!


by Mary Beth Krapil